Apartheid Wall as a Network and the Repression of Popular Resistance
Apartheid Wall as a Network
The concrete Wall is present in Bethlehem, parts of Ramallah, Qalqilya, parts of Tulkarm and throughout the Jerusalem envelope. It is 8 meters high - twice the height of the Berlin Wall - with watchtowers and a “buffer zone” 30-100 meters wide for electric fences, trenches, cameras, sensors, and military patrols. In other places, the Wall consists of layers of fencing and razor wire, military patrol roads, sand paths to trace footprints, ditches and surveillance cameras.
The Apartheid Wall’s “buffer zone” paves the way for large-scale demolitions and the expulsion of nearby residents, as in many places the Wall is located just meters away from homes, shops, and schools. The land between the Apartheid Wall and the Green Line has been declared a “seam zone”, and all residents and landowners in this area must obtain a permit to remain in their homes and on their lands.
The Occupation has created agricultural “gates” in the Wall; these do not provide any guarantee that farmers will have access to their lands but instead strengthen Israel’s strangling system of permits and checkpoints where Palestinians are beaten, detained, shot at and humiliated. In total, there are:
- 34 fortified checkpoints - 3 main terminals, 9 commercial terminals, and 22 terminals for cars and workers that control all Palestinian movement.
- 44 tunnels will connect 22 small ghettos inside 3 main ghettos.
- 634 checkpoints or other military obstructions including trenches, roadblocks, metal gates under Occupation control.
- 1,661 km of settler roads connect settlements and settlement blocs and complement the Wall system.
The ghettoization project in all of its forms imprisons the Palestinian population and, in many places, isolates it from basic services. This, along with the loss of land, markets, and resources, results in the inability of communities to sustain themselves adequately and with dignity.
The northwestern part from Jenin to Qalqiliya (the “first phase” of 145 km) is complete while continuing south until Salfit. From there it merges with the other portion of the Wall to form a ghetto in the north.
Within the “first phase”, 13 villages west of the Wall have been de facto annexed to Israel and some 50 villages are separated from their lands.
Also in the “first phase”, Israel has confiscated 36 groundwater wells and at least another 14 wells are threatened with demolition in the Wall’s “buffer zone”.
Salfit, the most fertile area of the West Bank known as the “food basket”, will lose more than 50% of its land – isolated behind the Apartheid Wall.
North of Salfit, the Ariel settlement bloc cuts into 22km of the West Bank, separating the Central Ghetto from the North. This annexes 2% of the West Bank.
The Wall winds 22km into the West Bank to annex the settlement blocs creating two fingers: Immanuel and Ariel. The route of the two creates small, isolated Palestinian ghettos. Communities like ‘Izbat Abu Adam, Dar Abu Basal and Wadi Qana are isolated inside the settlement blocs themselves. Another three villages, Az Zawiya, Deir Ballut and Rafat, east of the Ariel Finger, are to be surrounded on four sides by the Wall and connected to the reset of the West Bank by tunnel. More than a dozen villages located along the route of the Wall will collectively lose thousands of dunums of productive land.
The Wall encircles the Holy City and the ring of settler colonies around it, furthering Jerusalem’s isolation from the West Bank. The Wall rips through villages and neighborhoods, separating families, cutting social and economic ties, and ghettoizing areas stolen by the Zionist project in its plans for Jerusalem as the future capital of Israel.
New settlements are under construction around Jerusalem built on the annexed lands. This seeks to enlarge the number of Jewish settlers in the area in the project to change the city’s demography. Some 25 villages and neighbourhoods will be completely isolated from the rest of Jerusalem and the West Bank and squeezed into five different ghettos. The Wall in Jerusalem is almost completed. Only small parts in the north and east of the city are still under construction. The Jerusalem district will, in total, lose 90% of its land when the Wall is completed. It is a central component of the plan to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Jerusalem.
The right of Palestinians to live in Jerusalem is also under threat, and of the 396 Palestinian structures that were demolished by Israeli forces in 2010, many were located in Jerusalem.
In the southern West Bank the Apartheid Wall encircles Bethlehem by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west. With the land isolated by the Wall, annexed for settlements, and closed under various pretexts, only 13% of the Bethlehem district is available for Palestinian use. In Bethlehem and Hebron concrete walls surround the main holy sites, Rachel’s Tomb and Abraham’s Mosque respectively. Rachel’s Tomb is already inaccessible to Palestinians and is being annexed. The Wall isolates thousands of dunums from Hebron district, threatening cattle rearing, which is a main of source livelihood in the area.
Since 2000 the Valley has been surrounded with 6 checkpoints controlling all access. The Occupation announced in February 2006 a plan to annex 28.5% of the Valley, including 24 villages with a population of 52,000 along with their water resources and the Eastern aquifer. 200,000 people living in the Tubas and Nablus regions who own land or have family in the Jordan Valley are denied access.
The Gaza Strip, with a population of some 1.5 million people in 365 km2 is one of the most densely populated places on the globe. It is a prison that has been completely surrounded for years by walls and razor wire. The Wall in Gaza extends to about 55 kilometers starting from northwest of Beit Lahia until southeast of Rafah. Along the Wall runs a “buffer zone” which ranges, since the Gaza assault, between 300 – 600 meters. Anyone approaching the buffer zone runs the risk of being shot. The consequences of the buffer zone have been severe. 25% of the most fertile agricultural lands in Gaza are not useable. 15% of Gaza farmers are deprived of work, joining the ranks of the unemployed and becoming dependent on the food aid.
Repression of popular resistance
Popular resistance to the Wall, which consists of demonstrations and various means of direct action, began with the first demolitions in 2002 and has continued ever since. Repression by Israeli forces has been severe. There have been 16 people killed in demonstrations against the Wall, half of them under 18. Thousands more have been injured, and hundreds arrested. From 2008 – 2009 in the village of Ni’lin, for instance, nearly 500 were injured by Israeli fire, and more than 70 were arrested. The first wave of killings and serious repression lasted for a year and began in 2004 with the killing of 5 people in Biddu, which had organized mass demonstrations against the construction of the Wall. In 2005, 3 children were shot dead in Beit Liqya. A similar wave of killings occurred during 2008-2009, when Occupation forces killed 5 in Ni’lin and 1 in Bil’in, again in response to ongoing resistance.
Repression continued in 2010, and arrests in villages protesting the Wall increased. This is not to say that violence disappeared; protestors are continually beaten and injured by projectiles at demonstrations. In March 2010, soldiers shot and killed Mohammed Abdelqader Qadus (16) and Usaid Abd Qadus (19) in the village of Iraq Burin. The village had been holding weekly demonstrations in protest of settler violence and land confiscation.
Arrests related to actions against the Wall and settlements continued to increase. From our grassroots committees and local human rights NGOs, there has been an estimated 250 arrests of human rights defenders (HRDs) in response to actions against the Wall and settlements. This number does not include Jerusalem, where an estimated 750 Palestinians, many of them minors, were arrested in 2010.
Despite this repression, grassroots action against the Wall and settlements continue to expand across the West Bank. Friday protests continued in the villages of Bil’in, al Ma’sara and Ni’lin as well as the Saturday protests in Beit Ummar. The weekly protest in an Nabi Saleh, which began a year ago, remains strong.
Marches against the checkpoint in Beitin, the Wall in al Walaja and Beit Jala have also been organized, in addition to the protests against the settlements that were also occurring every Saturday in Iraq Burkin and more recently in the old city of Hebron.
These demonstrations are costly for Occupation forces. During the trial of Abdallah Abu Rahmah, documents presented revealed that ammunition used against demonstrations from August 2008 – 2009 cost 6.5 million NIS (1.83 USD), and the concrete wall erected in Ni’lin, a response to the continued cutting of the fence, cost 8.5 million NIS (2.39 USD).